Ghanaian matriculant battles with Home Affairs over documents

Ebenezer Odei was born in South Africa but because he doesn’t have citizenship he may not be able to register for university. (Tariro Washinyira/GroundUp)
Ebenezer Odei was born in South Africa but because he doesn’t have citizenship he may not be able to register for university. (Tariro Washinyira/GroundUp)

Ghanaian student Ebenezer Odei matriculated with five distinctions, but fears that documentation issues may halt his dream of becoming an accountant.

"It pains me that I have eyes set for university but may not go because of a piece of paper," he said.

He has been accepted to study commerce at the University of Cape Town (UCT), GroundUp reported.

Odei was born in South Africa in 2000 to Ghanaian parents. His parents came to South Africa from Ghana in 1996 and were granted permanent residence in 1997.

Seated in his home in Khayelitsha, Odei told GroundUp: "Every time I go to bed I worry about whether I will ever get funding for my studies."

Odei said he couldn’t apply to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) because he doesn’t have a South African ID document. Last year, he went through more than 20 bursary applications, but all required an ID.

Students applying to a South African university fit into one of three categories; South African citizen, international, or member of a Southern African Development Country (SADC), of which Ghana is not a member state. Despite being born in South Africa, Odei doesn’t fit into the SADC or SA citizen categories.

'My mother made sure I have a place to study'

He is in the process of sorting out his documentation, which Home Affairs said could take up to eight months. He was worried about missing the application deadline and applied as an international student. But course fee conditions are different for international students.

According to the UCT 2019 fees handbook, the first-year of the commerce degree costs between R59 970 and R76 300, of which international students are required to pay a minimum initial fee prior to registration, or by February 1, 2019.

Odei’s mother is a hairdresser in Khayelitsha and cannot afford to pay university fees. They share a three-bedroom house with a friend. His father died in 2014.

He says that while his mother cannot fund his tertiary education, she is the reason he did so well in matric.

"My mother made sure I have a place to study inside our small house. During exam time she would stop me from doing chores, cook for me and see to it that I got enough sleep."

He said that since Grade 11 he studied until about midnight and was up at 04:00 the next morning to do revision.

"Without the support I got from my mother I wouldn’t have achieved," said Odei.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Is social media doing more harm than good?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, our children are exposed and we can't protect them
49% - 4227 votes
Yes, but social media is part of the new reality
46% - 3917 votes
No, it's great for growing a child's world view
5% - 426 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.05
0.0%
GBP/ZAR
19.67
0.0%
EUR/ZAR
17.10
0.0%
AUD/ZAR
11.03
0.0%
JPY/ZAR
0.13
0.0%
Gold
1,831.32
0.0%
Silver
27.45
0.0%
Palladium
2,929.64
0.0%
Platinum
1,256.50
0.0%
Brent Crude
68.28
+0.3%
Top 40
62,573
+1.4%
All Share
68,520
+1.4%
Resource 10
71,474
+2.1%
Industrial 25
86,856
+0.9%
Financial 15
12,711
+1.1%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo